Fibre2Fashion takes a look at the evolution, future and reasons for the growth of protective clothing market.
The future of clothing is functional. And protective apparel are the best functional clothes known so far. Everyone loves the advanced functionalities of protective wear. Brands, retailers, consumers, industries, and even governments, all are embracing protective wear like never before. As today's generation is more conscious of safety and wellness, protective wear is gradually becoming a priority.
Protective clothes were invented to protect people and products from any environmental hazard or uncertainty. Most industrial wear are protective, and in some industries protective wear is a necessity. Industries like food, oil and gas, construction and manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, firefighting, and law enforcement and military have made protectivewear mandatory. The materials used to make protective gears include aramid and blends, polyolefin and blends, polybenzimidazole, laminated polyesters and cotton fibre.
In recent years, an immense growth in the global protective clothing market has been witnessed. The market value of protective clothing in 2015 was $8,003 million and is expected to reach $10,211 million by 2022. Allied Market Research projects a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.6 per cent for the sub-sector between 2016 and 2022 and estimates that the aramid and blends segment would generate the highest revenue throughout the forecast period.
Let's discuss the factors driving the growth of the protective wear market.
Million Insights, a research firm, said that an improvement in the global economic climate along with an industrialisation boom is leading to a growth in the protective clothing market.
Industries are embracing protective textile to keep their workers safe. At the workplace, work-related injuries were becoming the next casual thing. According to the US Bureau of Labor, work-related injuries and illness in the US are down to 2.8 incidents per 100 in 2019 from 10.9 incidents per 100 workers in 1972 thanks to protective gears!
Protective gears are assisting industries to keep their employee safe in a hostile environment. In the double-trouble situation, workers wearing protective gears are more confident to bravely face it.
The most common industrial protective gears are helmets, hardhats, respirators, dusk masks, safety gloves eyewear, ear protection, face shields, goggles, fall arrest systems, safety gloves, welding gloves, welding jackets, footwear and clothing.
These protectivewear are made of the following Dupont fabrics performing particular functions:
• Nomex fibres are inherently flame-resistant, lighter in weight and provide sound breathability. Innovative Nomex fabrics are good at dissipating sweat through the fabric making wearer feel dry and more comfortable.
• Tychem protects the wearer against corrosive gases, vapours and liquid chemicals. Tychem gas-tight suits have a limited life with self-contained breathing apparatus.
• Kevlar aramid is a heat-resistant fabric that helps to fight against high temperature. It is the ideal protective fabric for thermal, cut, and abrasion protection with a comfort fit.
• Tyvek is used for general industrial protection. The fabric offers an ideal balance of comfort, protection and durability to employees in industrial applications and contamination control environments, including in the pharmaceutical, manufacturing, automotive and utilities sectors.
• ProShield garments are designed to protect against non-hazardous light liquid splashes and dry particulates. These are comfortable, affordable and disposable.
Evolution of socio-psychological comfort
Cultural, sociological and psychological comforts are the main drivers of protective clothing.
Sociological and psychological theories have always provided meaning to human clothing. Our environmental conditions provide purpose to clothing. Attire evolves from two poles-the physical environment and social conditions. Hence, the basic requirement of any clothing is its comfort in various environmental situations that describe its physiological behaviour.
Clothing has been used for protection since time immemorial, shielding the human body from social, physical and emotional threats. The term protective clothing defines everything used for physical protection of the body.
Today, the array of physical threats is endless and so is the availability of protective wear. It can be worn in any situation to provide protection and make the wearer stand against any hazardous condition. Many individuals with injuries or handicaps use protective clothing to prevent further possible damage.
Clothing psychology and comfort has changed the way people look at protective clothing. Consumers are embracing protectivewear to participate in sports and adventurous activities. They are ready to risk their life trusting advanced protective wear. On the other hand, protective wear are building trust by boosting the consumer's performance.
In the last two decades, the world has witnessed many changes in workplace practices, with an abundance of innovative technology paving the way for new methods of production, both in machinery and in employee work wear. This has led to the popularity of personal protective equipment (PPE).
In the beginning, many organisations questioned protectivewear. But governments understood its utility and cultivated standards for PPE. Most countries now have PPE rules, which cover the essential health safety requirements of PPE, providing instructions in cooperation with the national authorities, labelling requirements, technical documentation and sample testing.
Before protective wear is legalised, the clothes go through three stages of evolution: examination of garment element, wear-test and the final tests for durability, utility, ergonomic and protective performance, liner system integrity, etc.
Increasing stringent government regulations in the Middle East and the Asia Pacific have made it mandatory for manufacturers to take precautions for worker safety to restrict workplace mishaps.
PPE are broadly classified into three segments that determine the necessity of the work wear:
Simple design: Workers assess the level of basic protection needed against minimal risks. This could include the use of garden gloves, ski goggles, masks and shoes.
Neither simple nor complex: This is the next-level protection clothing needed at the time of moderate risk. It includes dry and wet suits.
Complex design: The clothing required during an extremely hazardous environment falls under this category. Called advanced protective clothing, these are capable of protecting workers against mortal dangers and any irreversible harm that may impact a worker's health.
Regulations set out to make protective wear compulsory is one of the major factors driving the growth of this sector.
Future-proofing: Along with the reasons discussed above, several other factors favour protective clothing as well. These include the fusion of technology and clothing, safety-awareness, increasing pollution and infection, growing trends and the growing demand for industrial protective wear.
The future demands light-weight, comfortable, higher heatwear and tear-resistant protective clothing. Increasing trends for multi-functional and durable clothing with high chemical and mechanical resistance is expected to drive the growth of protectivewear in the coming years.